The added bonuses of energy efficiency

Everyone knows that energy efficiency can reduce use of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases. But it affects societies in many other ways as well, in what the IEA (International energy agency) calls the multiple benefits of energy efficiency.

IEA analysis suggests that these extra gains appear in five key categories: economy-wide impacts such as jobs creation and higher output, or health and well-being improvements; higher industrial productivity; lower infrastructure and operating costs for energy providers; increased property values; and lower public spending.  In addition there are also multiple reputation and image benefits.

These five extra benefits are frequently overlooked, so the full value of energy efficiency is often underestimated. For instance, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that every dollar invested in energy efficiency increased a building’s value by triple that amount. 

“Green” buildings have higher rental and resale values, studies show, as well as better occupancy levels and lower operating expenses and capitalisation rates. As energy is a top operating cost in most offices, resale value can include the net present value of future energy savings from improvements. 

In other cases, benefits come as an additional result of energy savings achieved – for example, avoided investment in infrastructure. Others flow from efficiency measures independently of energy savings themselves.

Studies show a range of employment effects from energy efficiency investment whose impacts average about 17 to 19 jobs generated for every EUR 1 million spent on efficiency interventions. These jobs result from the direct creation of posts as well as new employment further up the production chain as efficiency provides consumers new savings that they can spend, bolstering overall economic activity.